When the groundbreaking Forage restaurant in SLC closed some seven years ago, no one correctly guessed Viet Pham’s trajectory. The molecular gastronomy influenced restaurant was… Read More »Viet Pham’s next steps in Salt Lake City might surprise you
Pretty Bird Hot Chicken is a fast casual restaurant chain, based in Salt Lake City. The restaurant is the work of Viet Pham. The restaurant’s menu features a simply line up of chicken prepared with a Nashville hotc chicken style.
If you’re interested in the back story – Pham first made his name in Utah with the fine dining Forage, a molecular-gastronomy collab with chef Bowman Brown. The restaurant opened in 2009 and offered an idiosyncratic treat for marooned Utah foodies; plating as it did, a nightly eleven course tasting menu for a measly $89.
When Forage turned the lights off in 2016 (paving the way for Veneto to take over the space), Pham departed the local food scene, embarking on a variety of TV projects; notably besting Bobby Flay twice on the famed chef’s one on one cook off show. After a two year hiatus, and endless speculation, Pham returned to Utah.
In a move about as diametrically-opposed to Forage as possible, Pham turned his attention to fried chicken rather than foie gras; apparently being turned onto the popular Nashville style preparation while roaming Orange County during filming for his appearances on the Next Food Network Star – the same launch vehicle that propelled Guy Fieri to Lagrange point success.
Pham – a Food & Wine Magazine Best Chef winner in 2011 – naturally tapped his fine dining background to create what some reckon is the best fried chicken sandwich for 100s of miles in any direction. Case in point, in an interview with Park Record this year, he confided it took no less than three years of experimentation with a variety of bakers and companies before he was finally happy with the bun the company uses.
Attention to detail is of course everywhere as he also went on to explain, “we start with the bottom bun, and then put sauce on it. Then we put on the chicken, pickles and slaw and then the top bun. It has to be done in that order, because if you put the slaw on before the pickles, it would not taste right.” Pretty Bird’s chicken is prepared using double battered boneless chicken thighs, brushed in buttermilk then coated in flour. The chicken is then fried in a fancy pants pressure fryer for the prized taste that fans crave.
The first restaurant opened in downtown SLC in 2018 to a baying crowd. The restaurant saw almost instantaneous lines out of the doors and down Regent Street. To this day, the line is often just as re-assuringly long.
Pretty Bird MK2 came next, opening in the Spring of 2021, moving into the spot left vacant by the departed Sampan (just over the road from Dee’s at 675 E 2100 S). The opening came with a small menu expansion, adding chicken breast tenders alongside the hefty thigh-borne sandwiches and quarter cut prices of bird. The sophomore opening also saw the downtown location switch to walk-up window only; a smart move for the original’s snug 525 square foot environs. Skip forward to this year and Park City came online around February, offering another dine in location for Pham-fans. Which brings us to this Summer and the latest venture.
146 Regent St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
675 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
7169 S. Bingham Junction Blvd, Midvale UT 84047
1775 Prospector Ave, Park City, UT 84060
1775 Prospector Ave, Park City, UT 84060
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Pretty Bird articles
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